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Coltautos.com Gun of the Month - August 2019
Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP - Dutch Contract (ca. 1941) Captured on Guadalcanal by Corporal Hershel J. "Skee" Wilsky, Scout Sniper, USMC (November 1942)

Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP serial number 548205 - Dutch Contract pistol shipped to the Royal Netherlands Indies Commission, New York, New York on July 7, 1941 in a shipment of 50 pistols, processed on Colt Factory Order # 9467. This pistol was once the sidearm of a Japanese Officer on Guadalcanal but remains blood stained with additional damage sustained from USMC Scout Sniper Corporal Herschel "Skee" Wilsky's sniper rifle.

Inscribed on the back of the photo: "Hersch - Marines 1941 (just out of boot camp) with expert rifle badge, highest of 3 platoons."

HERSCHEL J. "SKEE" WILSKY - born August 10, 1922, at Champaign, Illinois.  He entered service with the U.S. Marines in June 1941. He served at the following military stations and locations: San Diego, CA, Overseas, Camp Pendleton. After boot camp be went with B-1-8 Marines to Camp Elliott, CA.

They left San Diego one month after Pearl Harbor on Matson Liner Lurline to Page, Samoa. They later landed on Guadalcanal Nov. 2, 1942. Some Japanese had landed the night before.  He recalls the air dog-fights, the malaria, huge night ship battles of Nov. 14-15 as seen from the front line hills, scouting for deep patrols, including an ambush of a Japanese officer and private.  He was shipped out to New Zealand with malaria and yellow jaundice.

He attained the rank of corporal and was discharged in September 1945.  He married Imogene (Jean) Coffin, has two children and three grandchildren.  He retired from the University of Illinois Physical Plant as foreman of the brick masons on March 1, 1988.

65th Platoon USMC San Diego, California

65th Platoon USMC San Diego, California
July 1941
Plt. Sgt. J.J. Baltra          Plt. Stg. W.C. Poe          Sgt. W.J. Miller

6 Row (3) Lange (7) McCall (11) Wisner
5 Row (7) Mayor (8) Mahoney (12) Novelli
4 Row (5) Chaney
3 Row (1) Shields (9) Feldner (10) Art Toros (11) C. Smith
2 Row (1) Stubblefield
1 Row (1) Herschel Wilsky (3)Cavor (6) Batson (8) Shiedner

 

Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP serial number 548205 - This pistol was once the sidearm of a Japanese Officer on Guadalcanal but remains blood stained with additional damage sustained from USMC Scout Sniper Corporal Herschel "Skee" Wilsky's sniper rifle.

Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP serial number 548205 - pistol is in the holster showing the alignment of the bullet hole with the damage to the left front grip strap of the pistol.

Lt Murdock with Lunds old 3rd Platoon - "Canal" B-1-8 11-42.

TOP ROW: Ratzi(?), Unknown, Rice, Daney, C. Baker, Justice, Pinky Howard, Rube Roundtree, Gaurnet.
MIDDLE ROW:
SGT French Dinsmore, SGT Roundtree, SGT Leftwich, Herb Cole, Vic Feldner, Homer Bondi, Oakley Webb, Ralph Springer, Ski Wilsky.
BOTTOM ROW:
Brazele, Rabbit(?), Lacey, LT Murdock, Guffy, Cecil Beauchamp, Polack, Weatherby(?), SGT Arky(?)

Corporal Herschel Wilsky - Fightingest Marine on Guadalcanal (ca. 1943)

Herschel Wilsky Ranked As One-Man Army At Guadalcanal

Corporal Wilsky's son Jim Wilsky captured the history he was told by his father of his father's experiences on Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands in 1942-43. Jim's tribute to his father follows:

In Tribute to: Herschel J. “Skee” Wilsky
Corporal, U.S.M.C. (B-1-8)
Guadalcanal Campaign, Solomon Islands, 1942-43

His Guadalcanal Collection includes: A Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP (serial number 548205), Magazines/Pouch, Japanese Officer’s Sword, Belt and assorted personal items.

I am the son of Herschel Wilsky and I can personally verify and attest to the particular incident described below, as he relayed it to me, which led to the creation of his amazing collection. All of these items are historical and memorable on their own for me. Hopefully many others too, who appreciate military weaponry and like items, but the Colt .32 is really the centerpiece.

As background information, I finally decided to get a Colt certification and it provided the missing piece of the puzzle. I should have gotten the certification long ago when my dad was alive but it finally proves what he and I always thought, which was that it was either sold to a foreign government in the Pacific Theatre, or possibly sold to Japan itself before war was declared with Japan.

The certification confirms that this gun was sold by Colt to the Dutch and that it almost assuredly went directly to one of their colonies in what was formally called the Dutch East Indies. Java, Sumatra, New Guinea and others are all likely possibilities. Japan soon occupied all of these Dutch territories and this Colt found its way into the hands of a Japanese officer and eventually onto Guadalcanal.

My Father was an accomplished and recognized USMC scout sniper on Guadalcanal. He was known, not only for his capabilities as a sniper but for close combat as well and would be “loaned” to other platoons occasionally. I remember well when one old Marine at a reunion walked up to me, put a hand on my shoulder and said simply, “Son, your dad was a very capable fighting man. Very.”

He normally selected to walk point while on patrols because of the natural instincts and skills he was born with. On other occasions, many times paired with another scout sniper named Otto Lund, he would venture even further ahead of his patrol for reconnaissance of enemy movements.

On a late afternoon in November 1942 (he always said mid-November but could never remember the exact date), he was accompanied by Lund on a reconnaissance mission, trying to observe from a very forward position, any Japanese troop positions or movements. The main body of the patrol, some 7 or 8 other Marines were positioned further behind them to avoid detection but would respond if need be.

On that hilly, heavily jungled terrain south of Point Cruz and somewhere near the Matanikau River, they spotted a Japanese army officer and a private below them, in a deep ravine. The two Japanese were talking quietly, looking at a map and alone on a trail. After waiting to assess the situation and check for other Japanese it was decided by the two Marines to take them.

My dad signaled that he would take the officer, Lund the other. Seconds later, his shot rang out first and Lund’s came almost immediately after. He told me that he had made much longer shots as a sniper in combat, but this was one had been awkward because of the deep ravine the Japanese were in and the normal obstacles of shooting in heavy jungle growth.

Nevertheless, both Japanese soldiers went down. The regular soldier did not move but the officer made small signs of life at first. My dad and Lund did not fire anymore though, instead they waited for what he said was at least fifteen minutes to see if there were other Japanese approaching. Finally, they crept down cautiously to the two dead enemy soldiers. My dad told me that this was a big deal for them because of the map, as they were extremely valuable and important on the island. The officer had a small pouch slung over his shoulder with some papers in it as well.

To both Marine’s surprise, the Japanese officer my dad had shot was wearing the same holstered Colt .32 of this collection and incredibly the pistol grip shows the bullet ricochet indent from my father’s shot. It then tore through the holster which has a matching hole. The officer bled out after the bullet ended up entering him in the thigh, probably severing his femoral artery. The Colt had changed hands once more. Along with the all-important map and small document pouch, the sword and belt were taken as well.

When the patrol finally returned, the map and papers pouch were turned over to a Lieutenant named John B. Murdock, who would later be wounded on Saipan. Otto Lund who my father was always extremely close with, was sadly killed on Guadalcanal January 14, 1943, when the campaign was all but over. My father lost him and many other good friends during this grueling 6-month campaign and he tried to honor their memory for as long as possible. He attended Marine functions and reunions up until the year before he passed away.

In total, on Guadalcanal, 1,598 officers and men killed, 1,152 of them Marines. The wounded totaled 4,709, and 2,799 of these were Marines. Marine aviation casualties were 147 killed and 127 wounded.

Respectfully,


Jim J. Wilsky

Cpl. Barney Ross was also at the battle of Guadalcanal and tells his account of Polish Hero Cpl. Herschel "Skee" Wilsky above at the "Canal".

 

Marine Corporal Herschel "Skee" Wilsky's USMC Dress Blue Jacket, medals, ribbons, inscribed Prayer Book and his dog tags from 1941. Note the 1st Division shoulder patch. This patch originally was authorized for wear by members of units who were organic or attached to the division in its four landings in the Pacific War. It was the first unit patch to be authorized for wear in World War II and specifically commemorated the division's sacrifices and victory in the battle for Guadalcanal.

 



Marine Corporal Herschel "Skee" Wilsky's hat with USMC insignia, 2nd Marine Division patch, ribbons (from top down) Navy Presidential Unit Citation with blue enameled star (this is the only Navy ribbon with horizontal stripes), World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two stars, American Defense Medal, Marine Good Conduct Medal. Also pictured are Corporal Wilsky's dog tags with his finger print etched on the reverse of each and his Individual Score Book while Wilsky was a PFC in Platoon 65. His scores are exceptional.

Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP serial number 548205 - Colt historical letter indicates this pistol was one of 50 of a Dutch Contract shipment to the Royal Netherlands Indies Commission, New York, New York on July 7, 1941, processed on Colt Factory Order # 9467.

Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP serial number 548205 - Dutch Contract pistol shipped to the Royal Netherlands Indies Commission, New York, New York on July 7, 1941 in a shipment of 50 pistols, processed on Colt Factory Order # 9467.

 

Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP serial number 548205 - captured with this pistol was the original Japanese Officer's leather belt, holster, magazine pouch with two Colt .32 ACP magazines, sword hanger and Samurai sword.


 

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